Saturday, July 28, 2012


I think about what I was doing on this exact day at this exact time ten years ago. Then twenty. Then thirty...

I think about what billions of people do while I blog.

I think about if I find a fly in my car and brush it out the window, where will it go next?

I think about if there is a specific amount of times I have to tell my husband that the dishes need to be rinsed of all food before they go into the dishwasher or they will never be clean and the process is worthless...or is it worthless to even try?

I think about what I will be doing in ten years.

I think about what my son is thinking when I try to explain to him that he is a boy and his sisters are a girl.

I think about if I am productive enough and if not why not? Is my mental capacity too small or is it a legitamite complaint that I have too many interruptions? Should I be doing more or less... and how do you evaluate productivity in a household? It is impossible, I think, so where do I get the satisfaction of completion? Or do I care?

I think about the person that answers the door and looks inside my world. Do I apologize for the mess? Or do I assume they understand?

I think about how much of our brain do we really use, and if it isn't very much, how do we use more of it?

I think about all the information we take in and wonder how much of it is real and how much is the telephone effect and finally how much is driven by money. I think sometimes that my job is one that was created soley for the sake of making a job for someone, and if we got rid of all the jobs that give information about what is right and wrong and study really important stuff that most of the world does not care about, would be healthier and happier? Or just poorer?

I think about how much of continuing education makes us smarter and how much makes us dumber.

I think it would be cool if I had sticks of different colors and if I touched an area with that stick, the whole uninterruped area would fill in that color of stick.

I think about the things that were said and done in this very room before I lived in this house, or this ground. Do we live where Indians lived?  Do we live on a burial ground?

I think about what my husband was doing the day I was born.

I don't ever think about aliens.

I think about what life would be like if I didn't think so much. I think I'd like it!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Fair That I Can't Be At

Forgive me. I'm selfishly emotional again.

My niece. I knew she was before there was evidence. The same feeling I had with my own.

I prayed for normal chromosomes, a prayer God answered despite doctor's doubts.

I cheered when her mother denied the doctor a chance to even suggest abortion.

I cried when she was in inadequate daycare. I lost sleep over schooling decisions.

She was mine for a year and a half of school. It was hard. I didn't always show her how loved she was.

I might of failed her. I might have saved her. I don't know.

How many scars are there because of me?

She is beautiful, she is special, and she is darn smart. She is loved, she is judged, she is hurt. She is happy.

I took trips to see her- I would have turned my family upside down for her.

We made a poster together. She took it to the fair that I can't be at.

She was awarded a Grand Champion ribbon at the fair I can't be at.

And today I'm a little mad that she thrives without me. I'm aching to give her a hug. I'm celebrating for her. I'm letting go just a little more. I'm wondering how God will fill this void.

But He will.

Second Corinthians 1:20 tells us that "no matter how many promises God has made, they are 'yes' in Christ." Christ gave His life so God could say yes to the fulfillment of His promises in the lives of believing mortals. Therefore, I am utterly convinced that any 'no' an earnestly seeking child of God receives from the Throne is for the sake of a greater 'yes', whether realized on earth or in heaven. -Beth Moore, Believing God

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Bless You!

I am convinced more and more each day of the fact that God loves beauty, and truly beautiful things bless God. God uses beauty to bless us. We bless God by expressing our gifts through beauty. Beauty and God just go together.

I am absolutely certain that chaos itself does not produce beauty. If you are unsure of this, come see my house. (I did a little experiment on the issue and went and had four kids) However, I do think we can find beauty in the chaos.

There are days that I can't provide beauty for my family. There are times that in trying to make something beautiful, I make more of a mess. (not beautiful)

I was overly tired and crampy when the meltdown began last weekend. I was being a selfish brat. I was spent and then some. And that's when I said, "I hate this house!" (opposite of beautiful)

There are a lot of reasons why I said that. Looking back, I realize the majority of the last ten years I have spent hating this house. I seldom can muster up thanksgiving for it, even when I see pictures of people in their grass huts. Some days I think I might prefer a grass hut.

But the problem is that my family and I live in this house, and I love my family. I want them to live in a blessed house, not a cursed one.

I got some sleep. I prayed a lot.

With a refreshed spirit, I stepped outside this morning and blurted out loud, "Bless this house."

I kinda shocked myself, then smiled, took a deep breath, and listed to the birds in the cool(er) morning air. I was suddenly joyful.

Doesn't attitude make a world of difference?

I was also reminded of how important it is to bless my family with my words. Words are beautiful, too.

Now, I had fantastic parents that love me very much, so please don't get me wrong. But many of my childhood memories lack spoken blessings. I was surrounded by complainers and those that compare,  and gossipers -at some point or another. I think that I am still seeing the effects of those words. I don't believe compliments easily. I have a hard time receiving other people's blessings. Words killed my hope. Thank God for His redemption.

So, even on the days that I cannot provide physical beauty for my family, on the days that I have loads of laundry to fold, nasty toilets, burnt up flowers in the yard, and I serve frozen pizza while I still have pajamas on, I can speak blessings over my family. This kind of beauty may just produce more beauty... and continue for the rest of their lives. It's like planting seeds of goodness.

And I probably shouldn't stop in my own house. People need to be encouraged.

Fill your home with beautiful words.

Menu Planning

We have to eat. If we don't plan, we will still eat (most of the time). But we eat on the run or not enough or too much or get too hungry and then overeat or go to fast food and usually spend to much on too little nutritional value. Plus, it makes preparing to food a chore.

But if we do plan, the meals are healthier, it is more calm, you usually save money, and you might even enjoy it. I think it also might help with less fighting due to bad moods due to hunger. It does for me anyway.

Because I love food and because menu planning is part of my away from home job, I find a menu cycle the best way for our family. Our children love to cook as well, and it is beginning to work for my advantage.

So as I prepare to start another school year, I decided simple is the key. We are starting with a two week cycle.

1. Make a table on a large piece of paper. If you can see it all at once it is easier to make a more balanced menu. For instance, you can space your Mexican style meals out throughout the two weeks and not all within three days. I included breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks.

2. Get the kids to make a list of their favorite foods to eat, to make, or foods they would like to try. Getting the kids involved in every aspect of eating will encourage them to try more foods and they may even like them better just because they had a part of the process!

3. Start with your most important meal of the day (different for all families) and just write entrees. Look for variety and save your easiest meals for the most hectic times of the day. Also, think of what can be made ahead of time. Then finish the rest of the entrees. 

4. Fill in with sides. Think of what your meal will look like. Try to have as many colors as possible in one meal and use different textures- but also stay as simple as possible! If these meals start out too complicated, it won't work. If they cost too much to make, they won't work. Start simple and add to it later if you think you can take on more.

5. We decided to designate Friday nights as "Family Meal Nights". I hope to really encourage trying new foods on these nights. Sometimes we might have a theme or I might have just one chef plan it and be in charge of preparing. We will be studying new cultures this year in school and foods will be involved, so that might determine what we will eat. However we do it, it will be a guaranteed meal together as a family with the table set and maybe even some fancy dishes.

6. Type your final menu on printing paper and put it somewhere in the kitchen. It could be hanging on your refrigerator or you can put in in a three ring binder along with the recipes. You can even separate the recipes by the week if you want.

7. This does not have to be a strict menu- switch it up if needed or ignore one if you are going out that night or serving leftovers instead. One of the benefits, however, is a fairly consistent grocery list and the peace of knowing that there is something to make if it is needed.

8. If your family feels as if you are eating the same foods all the time, add a third and/or fourth week. However, my goal is to start simple so we shall start with only two. Also, the repitition may help aquire a taste for certain foods and if they help prepare the food, they will be more comfortable with familiar recipes to begin with.

For us, a family- approved cycle menu takes some of the stress out of "just living", brings our family closer together, improves the quality of our food, and helps us stay in budget. Then we can move on to spending time on even more exciting things!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Mission Statement

I'm a little nervous.

I am convicted that I should write more with the purpose of teaching.

Now, I know that some have commented that I want to teach about my faith, and that is partially true. I am passionate about my faith and so it comes out frequently. However, my purpose for writing has been more of a processing technique for me. I have learned so much about what I believe because I have written it out, and at the same time I get excited about it so I want to share in case it would bless someone else.

But now I feel like I should teach more about what I think is beneficial for my family, and possibly for someone else's from experience. That was my original intent anyway. I get sidetracked easily.

I feel inadequate because I know "expert" does not describe me. Teacher, maybe. Obedient is what I hope to be.


I am working on ideas for my Home Project, including Household Administration. I think this could be an entire degree program, but no one would ever pay to learn about it because it makes ZERO money.

Anyway, before we can do anything else, we need a family mission statement. I attended a workshop on this last April.

Since then, we have had several family and parent meetings. Now we have an end result.

I used the notes from my workshop, but if you are interested, Franklin Covey has a mission statement builder here.

This is what we did:

1. We had a family meeting brainstorming what characteristics we would like to have as a family. It was a long list because the girls listed all the My Little Pony elements they could think of (minus magic). We also had to explain what some of these words meant (Generosity, Loyalty). They listed the fruit of the spirit, and others came up in the middle.

2. We (Sook and I) looked up verses for and summarized for : family, Christian characteristics, marriage, and children. A good concordance or study Bible would help for this.

3. For the same categories, we listed our unique family gifts, passions, and priorities. Some of these included having fun together, remaining loyal to each other, valuing each other, and growing strong together so that we can bless others.

4. Taking  2 and 3 together, we made an outline for our mission statement.

5. I wrote it. It was long. Some will be short and sweet. Some will be longer. Every family is different.

6. I wrote it on canvas and hung it up on the wall, along with a few Bible verses that were appropriate.

A few things I learned about and love about this project:

  • God made unique individuals and unique families. Don't think just because another family serves in one way that yours should too. It was fun to pray, dream, and discover our families purpose.
  • This takes a while. It should not be rushed, but should be done in a timely manner because of the benefits.
  • I loved how it brought us a little closer together.
  • It provides us some direction for future decisions.
  • It has already been used to teach our children character.
  • It always goes back to God's word, which is our foundation. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.
  • It started a precedent of discussing important issues with the family with Sook as our leader.
and finally,
  • I had a good excuse to paint something.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


I was having a hopeless morning the other day. This drought is trying it's best to get to me. Plus a few other things.

It was hard.


I went for a short walk to pray. God said I needed patience, and to not always predict how He would keep his promises, just that He would.

I felt a little better.


In an effort to beat the heat, we went to see Ice Age 30 minutes away from my parent's home.

When we exited the theater, rain drops were falling. Just a few, but it made me smile. The cloud formed and stayed a little bit ahead of us on the drive home. We could see streaks of rain...somebody was getting rain. That was good.

In the middle of our conversation, I said to my mom, "That is one of God's promises. We will prosper in what we put our hands to." Not even a minute later, there was a rainbow in the cloud. First one end of the arch, then the other, and then a double. All the way home the children oohed and ahhed over such a beautiful rainbow. When we got home, this was all that was left.

We didn't get rain that night. We got something better- a reminder of God's promises.
Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD. For he shall be like a tree planted by the water, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes; But it's leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought, Nor will it cease from yielding fruit.  -Jeremiah 17:7-8

The Best Kind of Beauty

There are different kinds of beauty. Some anyone can see. Anyone can point out the vivid colors of the tropical landscape or the style of a well groomed person.

But I think the best kind of beauty takes a little effort from the observer.

There are times that I would like to be at a beach somewhere....

But it is a shame to overlook the beauties from where I stand.

Obesrving snake eggs.

And dancing butterflies.

Playing hide and seek amoungst gigantic spherical rocks

Riding a 110 year old carousel
(Abilene, Ks)

Roaming around old courthouses
(Chase County)

and their jails.

Trying hometown favorite foods.

Exploring the Prairie

Staring at wide open spaces.

Imagining what history was like.

And searching for the unexpected.

Dull is what you make it.

I choose beauty.

Friday, July 6, 2012

The Trouble With Love

There are moments in the day that I just sit and marvel at a face that I love completely. Not just the face, but the giggle and the thoughts and the innocent childhood glory surrounding the physical bundle of cuteness.

And then there are moments that the very same face can bring out all kinds of ugly. And I have to remember, "I still love her." (or him, depending on the face).

I still love her enough to take control of my emotions and be the adult. The one who takes a beating and returns it with much needed hugs. The one to calmly correct, and to be more concerned about achieving a positive outcome than spewing out the evidence of what I really feel like.

That is when love gets hard... when it doesn't feel like love anymore. Sometimes I win, sometimes I lose it. Thankfully, there is still grace.
Often, I am overwhelmed with the love for my savior. My emotions overtake me and joy fills me so full that there is no room for anything else. I tell him, "I love you more than anything." And He says, "If you love me, you will love my children."

Jesus, you are easy to love because of all you have done. But they hate me.

"If you love me, love my children."

I think about this and know how true it is. The best thank -you is to use a gift to help another.

Loving the ones that need love the most.... taking my love for Christ and transferring it to the unlovable. That can get hard. Many times I fail. Praise God, He can work through my efforts. Even the small ones.

Hallelujah, there are experiences when a supernatural love comes over me, and I feel the love for a someone in need. It might be a stranger- or even an enemy. And with that love I make a commitment. Maybe it's just in my heart, maybe it's more.

And I do something nice. And they complain.
I work hard to serve. They ignore.
I give. They waste.

So often that is when I forget that I ever had love for them. I want to give up.

But if I give up, who will win? What else can give life but love? And life is what destroys the ugly in an unthankful heart, a wounded soul, and a hopeless spirit. Love is what breaks that cycle of death and plants a lovely seed of life.

The trouble with love happens when it doesn't feel like love. But love is not just a feeling. It is a force. And when put into motion, it produces, whether seen or unseen.

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. .
1 Corinthians 13

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Selfish Irony

I glanced down at my Bible commentary, and this is what I read.

"Christian hospitality differs from social entertaining. Entertaining focuses on the host- the home must be spotless; the food must be well prepared and abundant; the host must appear relaxed and good-natured. Hospitality, by contrast, focuses on the guests. Their needs- whether for a place to stay, nourishing food, a listening ear, or acceptance- are the primary concern. Hospitality can happen in a messy home. It can happen around a dinner table where the main dish is canned soup. It can even happen while the guest and host are doing chores together. .Don't hesitate to offer hospitality just because you are too tired, too busy, or not wealthy enough to entertain."

We are afraid to minister because we might not do it exactly right, saying it is for the other person's sake when really, it's all about ME. Selfishness.

I have so much to learn. For now, I am free to bless people where I am at. In a messy house with only a little food. And so are you. You are free. Go bless in the midst of your imperfect life.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Opinionated Ramblings of an American/Mother/Jesus Freak

There is a persistent question in the back of my mind on any given day.

"What do I want my children to know, what values should become second nature, and what do I want instilled in their still impressionable minds that will benefit them throughout life?"

Answers may vary, depending on the day and the emphasis. A love for learning, for example. A heart of servantude, how to know joy, how to keep peace, or wisdom to know what is important and what is not.

Sometimes it is actually education related, like, "if they can add one digit numbers with ease, they will find math easier altogether", or "if they can read, they can learn just about anything".

I find, however, their grades and reading levels are becoming not as important as the simple yet complex task of being themselves.

I read a quote recently that I will paraphrase since I don't remember the exact words or the author:

Creativity is the evidence that a child has survived adulthood.

Thank God, I think there is a child still in here- but only because of divine intervention.

Switching gears a bit, I have reflected on our current state, with fires and droughts and floods and uncertain economic futures. We can't live in fear. I can't live in fear, because if I do, I'm not really living.

I don't want my children to live in fear, either.

I see a political analyisis from one side of the aisle, stated by one confident individual, and an exact opposite from the other, equally as confident. Lately, I find myself rolling my eyes to the left and looking for a pole to bang my head on at the right. I have an opinion, a very strong opinion, but I'm not sure either side would hail my opinion as genius.

I want my children to think for themselves- not to necessarily follow one prominate figure word for word- unless that figure agrees with them word for word. No bandwagons. Not completely, anyway. And if they do have a different opinion than the majority, they won't let that alone change it.

But I pray that no matter what they do or say, that it will always agree with God. I have found that, no matter what the situation is, when it is all said and done, God's word remains the truth. If I didn't have that, I would sway anywhere- because no one really knows what is right anymore.

To stay "children" in a creative sense, but mature in wisdom and knowledge. To enjoy their gifts and personal preferences, while valuing someone else's. To disagree while listening, or even learning from another's opinion. These are the things I want for them.

As an American mother who also happens to be a Jesus freak, I have an opinion. And so does the childless atheist or Buddhist grandfather- and we all live in "the land of the free". And someone- in fact, many people think they can solve energy issues and unemployment and hatred and make sure everyone has their God-given right of owning an iphone. And if they still have not figured it out yet, maybe they should get a degree at Harvard  or read twenty books on the issue and have seven hundred committee meetings where everyone argues and everyone knows they are right but will never convince anyone else.

Again, as an American/mother/Jesus freak, I am convicted that the answer is not intelligence alone. In fact, people of all kinds of intelligence may be a part of the solution. If someone declares themself as a Christian, I hope they know what that means, and what they are claiming to believe. I pray that they recognize that God promises to take care of our needs and should not fear. That they know as many promises as possible, and hold to the truths they claim to follow. And that they would truly understand who Jesus was and what he was trying to teach us. Then, knowing how God loves them and provides for them, they would live with a love for everyone that demolishes hate and fear- and then watch to see what happens. And if what we believe is really true (which I believe it is) the power of God will tear down walls and open locked doors and set even more people free. Otherwise, what is the point of faith?

I heard a news story that in the tradgedy of the Colorado wild fires, it was "the church's time to shine", and told reports of how Christians were caring for those in need. I dare say we do not need a fire to shine. Everyday is filled with opportunities to reflect Christ's love.

God is in the business of loving people, and He wants the most irritating (fill in the blank) to know His love. In addition, he wants the most evil crook, the worst smelling child, and the most self centered billionare to look to him in order to know real love.

So no matter what angle I am coming from, it ends up like this:

We should love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strengh so that we can love our neighbor as much as we love being ourselves. 

So simple, so complex. But if we can do that with joy, I think we have found the meaning of life.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Car Time

This last month, we traveled quite a bit.

We don't have a dvd player in the car (gasp). I know. My children have suffered greatly.

But just in case you are like me and don't spring for the electronic gadgets that occupy your children's bored time, here are a few car games that have improved my sanity.

#1 started as "Spot the Hawk". Where we look for hawks perched along the Kansas highways. There are actually quite a few of them if the highwire lines are along the road. This game has evolved to "spot the meadowlark" or "spot the vulture" or "spot the bird and identify it". Or tree or car or farm animal....

#2 Storytime. Go around and take turns telling a story, one sentence each. You can either throw a sentence out there and see how it goes, or you can jointly come up with a character, setting, and plot and stick to it throughout the story.

#3 Cloud watching. The kids like this one- it sometimes is hazardous for mama to play.

#4 "Going to Grandma's House"- The classic car game where we take turns saying what we are taking to Grandma's house in alphabetical order, repeating each item with each turn. You can go with whatever pops into your head, or pick a theme. Animals, for instance, or even narrow it down to mamals. My personal favorite, however, is storybook characters. My two older girls helped my compile this list:

A- Alexander (and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day)
B- Bear (Bear Wants More)
C- Cat In The Hat
D- Dopey (Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs)
E-Edmond (Chronicles of Narnia)
F- Ferdnand (the Bull)
G- Godfather (The Nutcracker)
H-Henry (The Boxcar Children)
I- Ingalls (Little House on the Prarie)
J-Judy Moody
K- Karen (The Red Shoes, Anderson's Fairy Tales)
L- Lizzie Bruin (The Berenstain Bears)
M-Max (Where The Wild Things Are)
N- Nanny (Peter Pan)
O-Opal (Because of Winn Dixie)
P-Pippi Longstocking
Q- Queen Esther (the Bible)
R- Roy (Grandma's Attic)
S-Shere Khan (The Jungle Book)
T- Tracy (Hello Kitty)
U- Ugly Duckling
V- Violet (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory)
W- Wilbur (Charolette's Web)
X- ?????
Y- Yackity Yack (Sweet Pickles)
Z- Zans (One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish)